Report: Obesity, marijuana use up in area youth

Posted at 2:52 PM, May 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-10 17:52:43-04

Poverty, obesity and marijuana use among 11th-graders and school attendance by kindergarten through fifth-grade students are getting worse in San Diego County, according to a report card that was presented Tuesday to the Board of Supervisors.

But trends are improving when it comes to teen pregnancy, dental care, juvenile crime, cigarette smoking among adults and kids, child abuse and neglect cases, and alcohol use by minors.

The San Diego Report Card on Children and Families for 2015 was presented to the board by Sandra McBrayer, CEO of the nonprofit Children's Initiative.

"We're saying that what happens in childhood continues on to adulthood," McBrayer said. "We're still not only looking at children's indicators, but we're also looking at those adult indicators that show us that path."

One of the most significant trends noted in the report card was in the area of nutrition assistance. In the last 10 years, the county has more than doubled the number of children receiving food stamps and participating in a supplemental nutrition program called CalFresh to reach 91 percent of those who are eligible.

"This is an indicator that we see across the board that impacts the very foundation of a young person's life, making sure that they're fed, that they're healthy and they can thrive," McBrayer said.

The Children's Initiative developed the biennial report card with the help of professionals in children's services, government leaders, community organizations, schools and foundations.

The report card is considered the county's source of comprehensive data in 25 areas on the health and well-being of its children, youth and families.

"Let me assure you that this isn't just a report that will sit on a shelf," Supervisor Greg Cox said. "Our county continuously uses the data and recommendations in making decisions about planning and allocating resources. It is truly a road map that helps us make a difference in the lives of our children and families."

The use of e-cigarettes among children and adolescents was highlighted during the presentation as an area of concern. More than 6,400 students in grades 7, 9 and 11 in San Diego County reported being regular users of e- cigarettes.

"There are some concerted efforts that we're going to have to focus on in the coming year," McBrayer said.